Sunday, July 11, 2010

What is art? (#2 of 2), excerpted from Art History through Innovators: Sculpture

Now let's talk about what counts as a major innovation in art. To convey his idea of what’s important, an artist must be able to communicate with you. He has to capture your attention— he can’t communicate with you if your brain is channel-surfing. He has to show you something you can understand— he can't communicate without a common language. He has to show you something so unusual or so vivid that it makes you stand still and contemplate what he has created. In short, he has to make you stop, and look, and think about his work of art.

The innovations we’re looking at on this tour are not novelty for the sake of novelty. Every one of them gave its creator more power to make you stop, look, and think. And these innovations were not gimmicks or minor tweaks. They were so effective that they allowed many other sculptors to convey their values and ideas more effectively.

On the list of sculptures and the timeline, the works that illustrate innovations of that caliber— major innovations—are in bold. There are only 7 of them. We'll be looking at the other works on the list for the sake of context and contrast.  Resist the temptation to make a rude noise and fast-forward through those parts of the tour. You may hate medieval art, for example, but you'll appreciate Donatello and Michelangelo more if you've seen it.

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